The Garden

by Paul Martel

Once upon a time in a land not too far away, there lived a young maiden who had a garden. This garden was lovely to behold with flowers of all colors and kinds. One day a young man came along and seeing the fair maiden working in her garden, he asked if he might help her. He said that he had a special plant for her garden which required years of care and asked her if he might plant it there in her garden. He promised to stay and help her care for the special plant until it grew to maturity. So, trusting in him, she consented, but alas the young man was not true to his word and soon departed leaving the maiden alone.

The special plant sprouted and began to grow. It was a delicate plant which required much of her time to care for, and soon friends and relatives, who came by the garden, noticed the unusual plant. Some of them told the maiden that she had better kill it while it was young before it would set its roots deep into the earth and then would be difficult to destroy. They told her that caring for it would take much of her time, but the maiden, knowing that this indeed was a special plant, refused to destroy it. She cared for it night and day until it was no longer small and delicate.

The seasons changed and the years passed and the maiden grew into a lady. The plant, which had grown into an attractive small tree, had a smooth brown bark and dark green leaves. It required less care as it grew and eventulally grew into a tall and majestic tree with a polished smooth coppery bronze bark and mighty limbs reaching up to the sky.

One day the richest man in town, hearing of this unique and beautiful tree, came to see it. He was so impressed with the color and hardness of the wood that he offered the lady two hundred dollars to have his men cut it down so that he could make fine furniture with it for his home. She refused to allow him to destroy her beautiful tree even when he offered her two thousand dollars.

Then one day in spring the lady noticed tiny white flowers all over her special tree, and later small green fruit began to appear. During the summer the fruit grew larger and longer like a large bean, only much larger, like a cucumber or squash. People passing by stopped to marvel at such fruit they had never seen before on a tree. Men from the university came by to study it and looked it up in their books but were unable to identify it.

The lady allowed the men to take some of the fruit to study it and to see if it was edible. After many experiments, they found that although it was not edible, it had special curative properties and that when the pulp was applied to a cut, it healed rapidly. They allowed the fruit to mature to seeds and ground them up into a powder and mixing it into an elixir, gave it to patients who were gravely ill, and they soon recovered their health.

The fame of the special tree grew far and wide, and many people were grateful to the lady who had refused to destroy it when it was young or sell it for money when it was grown. They thanked her for unselfishly giving of herself to care for it until its special purpose was finally revealed.